I just got off the phone with the most novel fundraising approach I've ever experienced from a campaign.
I'm not even signed up on Thompson's website, but somehow his exploratory committee got hold of my telephone number and called me to solicit funds.
It didn't start out as a typical fundraising call. Instead, a pleasant, female voice told me that Fred Thompson is traveling the country seeking feedback from people like me as he explores his run for the presidency, and that he would like me to hear a message from him, and then answer a few questions about my thoughts about his campaign and the state of the country. I was thinking this was going to be a public opinion survey funded by his campaign.
So, I held the line as I listened to a recorded message from Thompson. He told me in his folksy, Southern voice that he had thought he'd turned his back on politics in 2002, but he's since decided the country needs someone like him, so he's been testing the waters for a run for the presidency and "the water is warm." He tells me he'd like me to stay on the line to answer a few questions.
So, I stayed on the line, and a new voice, a young, male voice greeted me with a "hello Mr. Stromer, er, Ms. Stromer" and asked me if I heard the message from "Fred" okay. I told him I did. He then asked me something along the lines of, "Do you think the White House should be taken back by average people like me."
"Well, sure," I said brightly.
What else would I say? "No. I think we should continue to have idiots run the country."
Then, the nice young man, dropped into a fundraising pitch.
It's worth noting that Thompson is "announcing" tonight at midnight. He's appearing on Leno and skipping the Republican debate in NH. He also is airing his first ad on Fox during the debate (that's a first, I believe).
If this is any indication, Thompson is going to be a financial force to reckon with. I understand he's amassed millions already - and he hasn't announced yet. It's novel that he's airing a nation-wide ad at this early date, and that he's already tele-fundraising is especially remarkable to me. I'm not likely to be on any of the Republican's donor lists, so that my name got picked for a call is remarkable to me. I haven't received such solicitations from any other Republicans or Democrats yet (and it's Democrats who are more likely to call me in the first place).
Ladies and Gentlemen. Let the games begin . . . .